Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Air Force One 美國「空軍一號」


It is the most celebrated aircraft on earth. Its mission: to transport and protect the president of the US. She stands as tall as a six-story building and almost as long as a football field. More than a plane, Air Force One is a monument to American know-how and pride. The presidential jet shares the airframe of a 747, but little else. From the wheels up, it has been re-engineered, with flight capabilities and top-secret onboard defenses that surpass any plane in her class. The United States Air Force has done amazing things with this aircraft to make sure the president is very well protected. In a time of crisis, the plane is outfitted to serve the commander-in-chief as an aerial bunker.


Sept. 11 was over. But for the men and women of the Presidential Airlift Group, there was work to do. Air Force One was about to face action in a dangerous new world. Report any suspicious activity, do not engage unless your life is threatened. Their next mission will test security to the max. Air Force One is headed for the most troubled region on Earth — the Middle East. From Israel to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, the president’s plane must be ready for anything. More than the shifting sands of a troubled region, the Middle East also harbors manmade threats. Air Force One is ready to defend against attack. Technicians climb overhead to check out one of the plane’s strictly off-limits areas. It’s the section of the airplane that is referred to as the attic — it runs almost the entire length of the airplane, and it runs over the top of all the passenger compartments. It’s pretty much the heart, the inner workings of the airplane. Beneath the skin and hidden from view, the plane carries an array of sensitive and secret features: radio and radar jamming, broad frequency antennas and sensors to track attacks from cyberspace or heat-seeking missiles.


If the president goes somewhere, he’s going on Air Force One. To guarantee that the president always has a plane ready to fly, the airlift group operates not one but two jumbo jets, identical in every detail — the primary and the backup. Wherever Air Force One flies, its twin is always on hand — and ready to take over. Failsafe operations start with engineering. The plane’s jet engines are unlike any others — not because of special technology, but thanks to meticulous care. For security, Marine One always flies with identical helicopters. Officially, Air Force One is not a plane but an air traffic call sign. Only after the president steps on board can this military jet assume the name “Air Force One.”


Fifty-two crewmembers will make the trip, twenty-six aboard each plane. There are flight crew, communications, engineering, cabin crew and, of course, security. Air Force One flies with four crewmen: pilot, co-pilot, engineer and navigator. Air Force One transports more than just the president. It carries a full White House team: political and diplomatic aides, military attaches and the press.

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